Australia Will Receive Submarines As Part of AUKUS from 2030s to Counter China

The U.S, UK, Australia alliance of AUKUS has unveiled plans to provide Australia with nuclear powered attack submarines from the early 2030s to counter China’s influence in the Indo-Pacific. During a ceremony in San Diego, accompanied by Australian Prime Minister Albanese and British Prime Minister Sunak, Biden said the agreement under the 2021 AUKUS partnership part of a shared commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific with two of America’s “most stalwart and capable allies.” Sunak called it “a powerful partnership,” adding: “For the first time ever it will mean three fleets of submarines working together across the Atlantic and Pacific keeping our oceans free … for decades to come.”

Under Tuesday’s deal, the U.S. plans to sell three nuclear submarines to Australia, in the early 2030s, with an option for Australia to buy two more if needed.

The joint statement said the multi-stage project would culminate with British and Australian production and operation of a new submarine class – SSN-AUKUS – a “trilaterally developed” vessel based on Britain’s next-generation design that would be built in Britain and Australia and include “cutting edge” U.S. technologies.

Britain would take delivery of its first SSN-AUKUS submarine in the late 2030s, and Australia would receive its first in the early 2040s. The vessels will be built by BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce.

“The AUKUS agreement we confirm here in San Diego represents the biggest single investment in Australia’s defense capability in our history, strengthening Australia’s national security and stability in our region,” Albanese said at the ceremony.

With the AUKUS, the United States will share nuclear propulsion technology for the first time since it did so with Britain in the 1950s.

Biden stressed that the submarines would be nuclear-powered, not nuclear armed: “These boats will not have nuclear weapons of any kind on them,” he said.

But the deal comes with a massive bill for Australia with cost estimated to go up to $245 billion by 2055.

Albanese defended the spending, saying it was “an economic plan, not just a defense and security plan”.

He said he expected AUKUS would result in A$6 billion invested in Australia’s industrial capability over the next four years and create about 20,000 direct jobs over the next 30. He said it would require funding amounting to about 0.15% of GDP per year.

“It is an investment that we cannot afford not to make,” Australian defense minister Marles told a news conference in Canberra.

Biden said he was not worried China would see the AUKUS submarine deal as aggression. He said he expected to speak to Chinese leader Xi soon, but would not say when.

U.S. national security adviser Sullivan pointed on Friday to Beijing’s own military buildup, including nuclear-powered submarines, saying: “We have communicated with them about AUKUS and sought more information from them about their intentions.”

The agreement will also see U.S. and British submarines to be deployed in Western Australia as soon as 2027 to help train Australian crews and bolster deterrence. U.S. officials said this would involve four U.S. submarines and one British in a few years.

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